"Getting Housed, Staying Housed"
September 8, 2003
Chicago Activates Strategic Plan to End Homelessness
With the launch of an ambitious ten-year Plan to End Homelessness in Chicago in August, "Getting Housed, Staying Housed," homeless advocates, providers and government agencies have united to transform the city's homeless support system.
"Chicago's plan to end homelessness is unique," says Mayor Richard M. Daley. "What makes it unique is the collaboration between so many stakeholders both public and private. For a city of this size to have this type of consensus bodes well for the long-term outcomes and sustainability of the plan."
Over 200 partners that comprise the Chicago Continuum of Care, labored over a two-year period to develop the strategic framework for the plan. In January 2003, Mayor Daley endorsed the plan and brought the full strength of the City's Inter Agency Council on Homelessness to the table.
The plan's vision calls for all individuals and families facing homelessness in Chicago to have access to safe, decent, affordable housing along with the resources they need to sustain it. The city will move from a system focused on providing temporary shelter, to one that places people quickly into permanent housing with ready access to support services.
The stability provided by permanent housing is critical to ending the cycle of homelessness. Supportive services will be more effective and the incentive greater when administered against the backdrop of a stable and safe living environment.
This housing-based strategy has three core components: prevention, permanent housing and wraparound or supportive services.
Four priorities were set for 2003, the first year of implementation.
- Increase affordable, permanent housing.
- Improve discharge planning for those transitioning from mental health facilities, prisons and other institutions.
- Launch the interim housing model with a Housing First approach.
- Build technology for data collection and access to benefits.
Housing Production and Accessibility
Chicago continues to act on a comprehensive housing plan that has produced 45,407 affordable housing units in the past five years. In recent months the city has led strategic planning in which housing advocates, community- and faith-based organizations, city leaders and residents have collaborated to devise additional, creative approaches to housing.
New SROs, Supportive Housing Units and Group Homes
In July 2003, Mayor Daley announced the development of 500 new single room occupancy units and 90 family living units. Half of these will be dedicated to homeless individuals and their families with the others benefiting low-income families.
Reallocation of Resources
The Chicago Continuum of Care has begun to shift allocation of HUD funding to support more permanent housing programs. Beginning this year, provisions have been made to create 846 permanent housing units.
Discharge Planning Forum
This summer, the Chicago Continuum of Care sponsored a one-day forum on discharge planning. Homeless advocates, administrators, service providers, government leaders and clients attended. A framework for improving current discharge programs was crafted and follow-up work is underway.
Interim Housing Model A Housing First Strategy
Ten agencies that provide homeless services were recently awarded money from the City to pilot the interim housing model.
During the average 120-day interim housing stay, families will benefit from comprehensive assessment and housing placement services. Clients will receive the immediate services required to stabilize their situation. Long-term social service needs will be addressed once they are placed in permanent housing.
While in interim housing, case managers will work with clients to locate appropriate housing options and assist with security deposits, furniture, co'signing of leases and other related housing services.
The key measure of success for agencies providing interim housing is for 75% clients to be placed in permanent housing within 120 days.
The City and the Continuum are working aggressively to establish a citywide information system that will collect data on the homeless and track program outcomes. Providers will also have access to Real Benefits, a web-based screening tool that can be used to help homeless individuals obtain mainstream resources and as Food Stamps and Medicaid.